Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, lots of things changed for both humans and pets. With so many people working from home, many dogs were confused, yet overjoyed. But if you haven’t returned to the office yet, your furry friends are in for an unpleasant surprise. It’s not fair for you to make that switch on them without warning.
So, it’s a good idea to start preparing your pets for the “new normal” sooner rather than later. Here are some tips for making the transition easier for you and all your pets at home.
Gradually Give Them More Time Alone
Luckily, most employers will give you a heads up for when in-person work will begin again. Whether it’s a few days or a few weeks, that’ll give you some time to start preparing your pup. For the time leading up to the change, start leaving your pet alone more and more. Start off with only a few hours at a time so your dog won’t be shocked when you’re gone for most of the day.
Even if you’re going places where your pet usually comes too, such as the park or coffee shop drive-thru, it’s still a good idea to leave them behind for now. They need to get used to being away from you so they don’t get too stressed when you start leaving for work again. If your dog has separation anxiety, you’ll need to be extra patient with this process.
Stick to Your Routine As Much As Possible
It might seem counterintuitive to leave your pet alone, but routine makes dogs and cats comfortable. You might be gone more often, but that doesn’t mean everything needs to change. Try to keep their walks, feeding times, and bedtimes the same to avoid too much change. After all, about 35% of US households adopted a new pet from February 2020 to February 2021. Thus, for a lot of animals, the pandemic is the only routine they’ve known with you.
Believe it or not, cats are more likely to get stressed over a routine change than dogs. They might be more independent, but they still like some consistency in their days. Pets with too many changes in their life could turn to destructive behaviors out of anxiety or boredom. So, if you can stop by on your lunch break to play with your pet as usual, that would mean a lot to them.
Hire a Dog Walker
Not everyone can leave work to walk their dogs or pet their cats. So, having a trustworthy dog walker or pet sitter can be a great way to prevent your pet’s loneliness. If you’ll be gone all day, your dog will probably need to do their business at some point, which is why many dog parents turn to dog walkers. If you had a dog walker before the pandemic, try to hire the same person so your pooch can have some familiarity. But if your dog was newly adopted, introduce them to the dog walker before you let them be alone together.
Keep Them Busy
Distractions are a great way to prevent anxiety in pets. And keeping them busy while you are around is a good way to tucker them out when you leave. Before you head off to work, give your dog an opportunity to get all their energy out. Take them for a long walk or play fetch in the yard. It might require you getting up earlier, but it will help your dog feel more sleepy and relaxed when you leave.
Some dogs and cats also benefit from more distractions while you’re gone. Leaving the TV or radio on can provide soothing sounds for your pets while you’re away. Also, make sure your pet’s favorite beds and blankets are accessible to them to give them additional comfort.
Look for Unusual Behaviors
When animals feel anxious or stressed, they’ll show it. They might tear apart furniture, have accidents, or itch themselves uncontrollably. Following the above tips can help you avoid these behaviors, but even small changes could add stress to your dog’s life. If your pet’s anxious behaviors become out of control while you’re gone, there could be an underlying health concern. Contact your vet if you’re worried about your dog or cat’s wellbeing at any point.
Don’t Forget to Give Them Plenty of Love!
Being away more doesn’t mean your four-legged friend has to get less love. If anything, going back to work should make your time together even more special. So, whenever you are home with your dog or cat, make sure they still get plenty of love and attention from you. After all, they deserve it for comforting you during these confusing times.